Ten Things from Twenty Fifteen

I'm always a fan of New Year's. The excitement of what's to come, and the idea of new beginnings. 2015 was a time of tests, true ups and downs, and I have never been more eager to let go of a year. However, I can't deny some life changing things that came out of a year that turned out to be nothing like I expected. Which ended up being the true beauty of it.

Ten Things from 2015: 

1. I fell more in love with Charleston.

2. I got on a plane to find out that snowy Colorado is a real, wonderful place. 

3. I googled "Airstreams for sale" at least twice a month. 

4. I played with different media. Hated some, excited about others. 

5. I quit the things that were toxic for me. 

6. I shed half of my belongings and found the light at the end of the minimal tunnel. 

7. I moved away from the city and into the mountains. 

8. I spent nearly 4 months unemployed (by choice) and it was the best thing at the perfect time. 

9. I started practicing Bikram Yoga, and it changed my life. 

10. I finally understood and lived by the idea of Slow Living.

I'll be sipping on my favorite Project Sip champagne cocktail tonight, trying to stay awake for midnight. 

Festive Feelings

This entire weekend simply felt like it came out of a Christmas movie. I am trying to be good about being intentional with holiday prep and festivities this season. For the past several years I have worked in industries like retail or baked goods that kept me busy up until Christmas Eve, so this year I am quick to soak up every moment of holiday cheer I can get. 

Growing up we always had the same artificial Christmas tree, and only until recently did I realize how much I truly love the idea of having a real tree. I stumbled onto a Christmas tree farm near my home this weekend, and paced the rows of Christmas trees planted in the lovely white frosted ground. I was the only one there, and it was the most peaceful I've felt in the last several months. Heading to a Christmas tree farm every year and cutting down the tree feels like a new tradition. 

Brevard also had their annual holiday festival this weekend, and I'm not sure I have loved small town living more then I did walking the streets lined with Christmas lights, listening to carolers from down the street, while keeping my hands warm with hot cider. It was the perfect finishing touch to having all of my shopping done, gifts wrapped, cards signed and sealed, and the first batch of gingerbread cookies delivered to friends. I have never finished things this early, but I have to say it feels amazing to just sit back the next coming weeks and enjoy the season while it lasts. 

Cheers to you, friends. I truly hope this is the best holiday season. Are you making any new traditions this year? 

 

Layered Up

As I sit here and type this, I am bundled up in a burrito of blankets by my fire place, and it's surprisingly lovely. With winter breezes creeping in, it feels like I am adding one more article of clothing with each day that passes. As I have learned to invest in a capsule wardrobe, I've been daydreaming of the layering pieces to add this winter. I love the look of a garment coming out from under a coat, or the simplicity of a simple wool scarf or beanie. These are a few images of winter wardrobe inspiration from Elizabeth Suzann and Parc. What are you looking forward to wearing this winter? 

Pumpkin Pound Cake

This was the first fall I was able to slow down and notice the changes happening outside, rather then just wake up one day to notice all the leaves were gone, and it was especially lovely being up in the mountains. Colorful trees lined the streets winding down into town, and the crisp chill in the air was refreshing after the warm summer days. Being away from the busyness this year has given me time to just be myself and experiment in my kitchen, and I especially loved making this recipe. 

Growing up, I never ate the pumpkin flavored desserts and I only recently realized I have years to make up for missing out on them. So naturally this season I can't stop baking pumpkin scones, pies, breads, and one of my favorites - pound cake! 

I've been getting together the list for this year's Thanksgiving dessert spread, and after trying this, it will most likely become a tradition. With the light icing traces down the sides, to the seasonal taste of the pumpkin and spices used, I simply bake this cake when I want my home to smell like fall. 

Ingredients: 

   2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

   1 cup canola oil

    3 eggs

   2 cups all-purpose flour

    2 teaspoons  baking soda

   1 teaspoon  ground nutmeg

   1 teaspoon cinnamon

   1/2 teaspoon salt 

   1/4 ground cloves

   15 ounces of pumpkin 

For Icing: 

   2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar

   4 tablespoons of melted butter 

   2 tablespoons of milk

  

Instructions: 

1. Heat your oven to 350°F

2.  Combine your granulated sugar and oil in a stand mixer until well blended. Add the egs, one at a time and making sure you're beating well after each egg. 

3. Combine all of your dry ingredients in a bowl and make sure they are all mixed throughly. Then add one cup of your mixed dry ingredients alternating with your pumpkin to your egg mixture, beating well after each addition. 

4. Grease and lightly flour a 10 inch pound cake pan and transfer your mixed batter to it. Make sure your batter is level in it. 

5.  Bake for 60-65 minutes, of until you can insert a toothpick towards the center and it comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting it to a wire rack and remove the pan to cool completely. 

6. To make your icing: melt your butter in a pan or bowl in your microwave and add your sifted 2 cups of confectioner's sugar into your melted butter. Add your 2 tablespoons of milk and whisk until it is smooth and consistent. 

 8.  Once your pound cake is fully cooled, you can add your icing. I typically let it cool fully and before topping it with icing I stick it in the fridge for 15 minutes just to be sure. You can either spoon it on the top edges, or pipe it on - whatever you are comfortable with! 

9. Slice it up and enjoy. I love mine with homemade vanilla bean ice cream! 

 

If you give this recipe a try, I would love to see! You can use the tag #elegantmornings on your Instagram photos to share your homemade creations, and the craft behind intentional living. 

The Craft of Hand Lettering by Yes Ma'am + Paper Goods

Erica of Yes Ma'am Paper + Goods is one of my favorite people to work with. Her talent is incredible, and she creates the most calming and comfortable learning environment with her classes, The Craft of Hand Lettering. I loved flipping through these photos that Morgan Blake took from our Fall event. 

We started the morning with coffee and pastries, as the attendees were welcomed to the beautiful space. Each student had their place marked with a hand lettered pumpkin paired with their tools for the day. Erica started the class with an introduction of herself and her company, following with different exercises to warm up before matching the ink to the paper. My favorite was when they freely scribbled with crayons - adults don't get to do that as much as we probably wish we could. By the end of the class, student's were amazed by what they were able to create on a piece of paper with their hands. 

This class was offered in two parts, so after the morning class of learning the basics, we all enjoyed the fall breeze with a rooftop lunch over looking the city. LottaFrutta provided the most delicious sandwiches, fruit cups (how cute are the tiny heart toppers) and hibiscus tea. I am still day dreaming about it all.

Not only did the students become more familiar with the beautiful hand lettering they were capable of, but they went home with the most beautiful tools and treats form the class as well. My favorite part of the class had to be at the end, when Erica had each student write "beautiful." Morgan snapped polaroids for the students with their piece to take with them. 

I was honored to be a small part of this class and watch as Erica teaches. Her passion to share The Craft of Hand Lettering is evident when you sit in front of her with a piece of paper and an ink well. The energy of the class was such a great mix from the light, airy, fall styled space, and the students who filled up the room. 

Photographer: Morgan Blake | Event Stylist: Xanna Kidd | Space: The Wingman Collective | Coffee: Octane Coffee | Custom Pen Pouches: Heirloomed | Tools: Yes Ma'am Paper + Goods | Lunch: LottaFrutta | Pastries: Mae's Bakery | Totes: HelloLunch Printing | Paper Goods + Hand Lettering: Yes Ma'am Paper + Goods | Teacher!: Erica Loesing of Yes Ma'am Paper + Goods

Giveaway! (closed); Charlotte Smith Studios

I have always admired ceramics, working on the wheel, and sculpting. I am even eager to give it a try myself. I met Charlotte Smith at a local market highlighting the makers and creatives of Atlanta, GA last March, and was instantly in love with her work. Her pieces are unique, modern and minimal. Her craft comes from her background of a family filled with makers, and she went on to study Fine Arts with an emphasis in sculpture at Mississippi State University. 

Charlotte is now living in Atlanta, GA while creating pieces for her online shop, custom collaborations, filling orders for local shops like Octane Coffee, and participating in local pop up markets.

I was honored to get to hang out in her studio and see a little behind the scenes of her precess and work.. Check out our Giveaway at the end of the post to win a set of three prep bowls! 

"After my pieces have been completed, I finish them off with a set of stamps my grandfather used throughout his life making dog tags for his many hunting dogs. These stamps are a reminder of his lifestyle and his way of practical living, to be thoughtful of materials and that consumption rarely makes you full."  - Charlotte

Charlotte Smith Studios x Elegant Mornings Giveaway

Win a set of three prep bowls made by Charlotte, perfect for your kitchen or as a gift! To enter the giveaway, simply sign up for both Charlotte Smith Studios Newsletter and the Elegant Mornings Newsletter - no spam, we promise! Subscribe to both newsletters by Friday, October 2nd at 11PM for your entry. See specific details below. 

*Winner will be contacted through email by October 6th. We ship your prize directly to you. Entries from the continental US only (for shipping reasons). 

Classic Apple Pie

The leaves are already starting to fall up here in the mountains, and as much as I will miss the days of jumping in the lake, getting freshly picked peaches from the market, and late night bon fires, I love the way we romanticize autumn, and how people fall in love the idea of change with each season.

Although I am guilty of eating it all year round, I run to the kitchen and bake an apple pie when the crisp air announces autumn's arrival. This recipe is one of my favorites, and I've been excited to share it since shooting it last spring with Ellen Adkins. It's easy, and a steady crowd favorite. 

Ingredients: 

    6 apples - I suggest Fiji or Pink Ladies

   Juice from half of a lemon

    1/2 cup brown sugar

    1/3 cup granulated sugar

    2 tablespoons of flour 

    1 teaspoon of cinnamon

    1 egg

    Pie Crust - choose your favorite recipe, or you can use the store bought dough. 

 

Instructions: 

1. Heat your oven to 450°F

2.  Peel and slice your apples. I suggest thin slices - but you can have them at any thickness and size you would like. 

3. Add your apple slices, dry ingredients, and lemon juice in a bowl, and mix your ingredients together until the apples are evenly coated in sugar-y goodness.

4. Lightly flour a work surface and turn your pie dough out onto it. Flour the top of your dough and roll out gently to desired thickness. Make sure the size of it will give you some extra dough over the sides to trim. Roll out two if you want to top your pie with a full crust, too. 

5.  Place your rolled dough into your ceramic pie plate and with a fork, poke the bottom of your crust through out the bottom. Then spoon your mixed apples into your curst until it fills to the top. (If you have left over apples, I love saving them in the fridge to heat up on the stove top later.) You can cover your pie with a full crust, or cut your crust into strips. I choose to do the full curst because lets face it - it's one of my favorite parts. 

6. Once you place your crust on top, get a small bowl of cold water next to you on your work space. Dip your finger in the water as you trace around the edge of your pie plate to act like a glue for both sides of your crust. Once your crust is sealed all the way around, you can trim your edges and proceed with whatever "design" you would like to do for your pie edges. Here are some interesting ideas! 

7. In a small mixing bowl, crack your egg, add one tablespoon of cold water and whisk together.  Once your pie is ready, take a pastry brush and brush your egg wash on top of it. If your pie is fully covered with a curst, take a knife and cut four slits in the top of your pie.

 8.  Place your pie in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. Once it is done baking, let it cool fully on a cooling rack, then serve! 

 

*Photos by Ellen Adkins

Bits and Pieces

I am finally starting to feel settled in at the cabin, and getting the hang of my new routines. Like on Mondays, I pick up fresh eggs from the farm after getting breakfast at the bakery. On Tuesdays, I gather up wildflowers for the house and bake bread. I spent the day Wednesday cleaning and reorganizing the house. 

These are some of my favorite corners of my home: my nightstand, bed, bathroom counter, and my plants. Typical. It's simple, quiet, and I love the way the light floods in through the windows during the afternoons. Now to make some sort of Thursday tradition, probably involving pastries and setting the table for dinner.